Organic milk produced by happy cows


The journey Carissa Wolfe and Karyn Cassar took to become organic milk producers at Hannam Vale on the state’s Mid North Coast is an interesting one.

Lush organic pastures and Fleckvieh cows thriving on the state’s Mid North Coast. After a tough 2019 due to drought summer and autumn rains have transformed the property.

The pair have a passion for cows and nature which underpins their farming practices and contributes to the success of their dairy enterprise.

Trading as Benmar Farm their dairy, located on a leased farm near Taree, is one of three suppliers to the Norco Co-operative’s organic brand.

Today the 110 head milking herd is enjoying an abundant season with Carissa and Karyn thankful to the wonderful support of the local community who came to their aid during the drought that saw their water supplies from the Stewarts River run dry.

“We had to rely on bought-in water last year for the dairy as the river which has never run dry before did so and people donated water to us which was a huge gift,” Carissa said.

It is those connections between community, the farm and what they produce that plays such an integral role in their farming philosophy.

Karyn Cassar and Carissa Wolfe owners of Benmar Farm, Hannam Vale near Taree

Karyn Cassar and Carissa Wolfe owners of Benmar Farm, Hannam Vale near Taree

Teaching consumers and other dairyfarmers about their operation means the pair host on-farm tours and they are active in the local dairy industry attending monthly get-togethers and being members of the Mid Coast Women in Dairy Group.

Their interest in farming and dairying began for Karyn on the South Coast where she completed a dairy apprenticeship post high-school and for Carissa, as a child raised in Montana, visiting her grandfather’s cattle ranch in California.

Karyn and Carissa spent a decade working in the United States based in Oregon – Karyn in dairy cattle husbandry plus herd recording and Carissa as a professional bookkeeper both working for large commercial dairies in the region gave them the training and understanding of how dairies work and what makes them viable.

During that same period they kept three dairy cows on their small block in Portland selling fresh milk to regular customers.

In the north west Pacific region of the US 30 per cent of dairies are organic, said Carissa.

“The average herd size is 2000 cows with the organic dairies milking on average 800 cows,” she said.

“So we learnt a great deal about commercial dairies during that time and living in Portland taught us about the high demand for quality organic foods.

“Given that training and exposure we decided in 2012 to return to Australia and start our own organic dairy.”

The attraction of Australia was the ability to milk year-round off pastures – offering a true farming with nature operation. An 18 month search resulted in them establishing Benmar Farm on a 440 acres property long used for dairy farming.

Organic farming practices are at the core of their operation which Carissa described as bringing back a balance to what humans have unbalanced.

“Working with our soils is the basis of everything. We don’t spoon feed the soils with inorganic fertilisers as active soils produce the most abundant pastures.

“Regenerative food production is our aim – farming without a cost to the environment.”

The decision to establish a Fleckvieh dairy herd is also part of this overarching commitment to ethical food production.

Fleckvieh is a dual purpose German breed what Carissa says is second only to Holsteins world wide in the dairy industry.

“They are what we would describe as being a primitive breed – having strong genetic traits meaning they can handle the heat and cold, calve easily and are intelligent making them easy to manage,” she said.

Being dual purpose offers a second income stream with the sale of grassfed beef and the surplus calves are much sought after and sold privately to regular buyers.

Benmar Farm is one of three organic milk suppliers to Norco Coperative

Benmar Farm is one of three organic milk suppliers to Norco Coperative

    s.parentNode.insertBefore(t,s)}(window, document,'script',
    fbq('init', '212556246621990');
    fbq('track', 'PageView');

    $(window).on('load', function() {
        (function(d, s, id) {
            var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];
            if (d.getElementById(id)) return;
            js = d.createElement(s); = id;
            js.src = "";
            fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);
        }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));

Source link

Leave a Reply